I worked on a SSS truck project this last weekend; this particular truck has had 2 owners, both of which are members of this forum. In fact this truck was a forum favorite appearing in a past sss.com truck calendar and I *believe* was even a TOTM winner at one point in time. The original owner had taken the truck to New Era Performance in Rochester NY with essentially a blank check and orders to make the truck stupid fast, costs be damned. End result was a cam/spring change, Radix install, nitrous kit, tuning, full exhaust, guages, converter, and (quoting from the invoice) "built transmission". After the truck changed ownership I was contacted by the second owner because the transmission violently kicked like a mule on the 1-2 shift no matter how soft or aggressive it was driven, to the point of discomfort; the trans was removed, torn down for inspection. The itemized charges on the New Era Performance invoice for this built transmission read as follows: "upgraded clutches, Beast shell, 5 planetary pinions - $1200; Zippy shift kit - $230". That's $1430 for the built transmission, and it had 15K-miles on it when pulled. The following was documented:
- modifications found were: Alto wide band, Beast shell, Superior shift kit, .490 boost valve, billet servos, and drilled separator plate
- there was soot in the pan
- all clutches & steels were stock OE material and configuration (not upgraded as mentioned in the invoice)
- Beast shell did not have a mirror finish? (this finish must be polished/smooth)
- 3/4 clutch pack had excessive clearance and showing evidence of resulting slippage
- accumulator pistons were unchanged (all factory plastic) and the forward accumulator piston had failed (cracked)
- all hard parts (shafts, gears, collars, etc) were factory OE - no upgraded hard parts present
- the main drum was not sleeved/reinforced
- it was impossible to 'upgrade to 5 planetary pinions' because the transmission already had them stock (model 4L65-E, RPO M32)
- there was no High-Rev kit installed (to assure oiling above 5500-RPM)
- no provisioning was made in the drum to prevent centrifugal clutch apply above 5000-RPM
- factory (weak) sprag (not the 29-element B/W sprag)
- no modifications/changes found in the pump
- the band anchoring hole (inside the main case) was eggholed out-of-round from the shift kit's violent hit on the 1-2 upshift and the main outer transmission case will have to be thrown out and replaced
So what we have here is $1430 paid for a bone-stock 4L65 rebuild/refresh with an aftermarket band, shell, and shift kit. It didn't last long, and there was frankly never a hope of this unit surviving behind a nitroused, Radixed, cammed LQ9.
In fact it wouldn't last behind a stock motor, due to the loose 3/4 clutch pack, plastic accumulator pistons, and eggholed band anchor (causes loose band & slippage).
Usually performance shops will outsource their transmission builds, but evidence in the invoices makes it pretty clear all work was done by Brian at New Era Performance. The worst part is invoicing/charging the customer for 5-pinion planetary gearsets when the transmission already had them - normally these gearsets are about $500 ($250 each). IMO the invoice should have read "REbuilt" instead of "Built" transmission.
The present owner of the truck was expecting to just open the transmission and perform some corrections on the valve body and correct the shift behavior - he did not expect to find that the past transmission builder turned a perfectly good 4L65 into a pile of junk where not even the case was worth saving. The shame is, to have done the job right would have initially only cost another few hundred dollars.
Edited by Mr. P., 20 December 2010 - 11:58 AM.